The standard first trimester abortion procedure is the suction and curettage
method. The abortionist begins by dilating the mom's cervix until it is
large enough to allow a cannula to be inserted into her uterus. The cannula
is a hollow plastic tube that is connected to a vacuum-type pump by a
flexible hose. The abortionist runs the tip of the cannula along the surface
of the uterus causing the baby to be dislodged and sucked into the tube -
either whole or in pieces. Amniotic fluid and the placenta are likewise
suctioned through the tube and, together with the other body parts, end up
in a collection jar. Any remaining parts are scraped out of the uterus with
a surgical instrument called a curette. Following that, another pass is made
through the mom's uterus with the suction machine to help insure that none
of the baby's body parts have been left behind. The contents of the
collection jar are examined to assure that all fetal parts and an adequate
amount of tissue commensurate with gestational age are present.
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Here you will find a diagram of the suction and curettage abortion procedure
Click here to see the
medical diagram in Spanish [Click
here for the explanation in Spanish
Click here for the Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) Procedure
Following is testimony from three abortionists
regarding this procedure. This testimony was given in United States District
Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on May 27, 1999, Case No.
Abortionist Dennis Dean-Christensen
Q. Are you aware that we stipulated that
during a suction curettage procedure sometimes no fetal parts come out through
the cannula during suction and that the doctor then goes in with forceps to
A. Yes, I'm aware of that.
Q. At that point when the suction has been
used but no fetal parts have come out and the doctor goes in with forceps is the
A. Based on our definition, yes.
Q. And when will the fetus die in that
A. Well, sometime between that point and when we
complete the procedure.
Abortionist Harlan Raymond Giles
THE WITNESS. The fetus in the suction D&C is much
smaller, generally less than 12 weeks of gestation, and the fetus either in
whole or in part passes through the plastic cannula … and then goes into a
suction machine where there's a gauze bag that then traps the fetal structure
and the placental structure as well.
Q. What kills the child in the suction
A. The complete separation of the fetus and the
placental tissue from the maternal uterine surface. It totally disrupts the
vascular connection and that results in death.
Q. Okay. Can the heart of a fetus or embryo
still be beating during a suction curettage abortion as the fetus or embryo
comes down the cannula?
A. For a few seconds to a minute, yes.
Click to listen to the heartbeat of an
unborn child at
9.5 weeks; 11.5 weeks;
15 weeks; 26 weeks;
32 weeks (All ages noted here are LMP; therefore the baby's age from
fertilization is actually two weeks younger than the number. These heart tones
were recorded through a Doppler speaker by a pro-life doctor, Dr. David M.
Abortionist Martin Haskell
THE WITNESS: I've performed approximately or
greater than 40,000 suction curettage abortions. Roughly, you know, 10,000 D&E
abortions. After the 20th week I've performed approximately 5,000 abortions,
about 3,000 of them being D&E and about 2,000 of them being the intact variety
Q. When you perform an abortion by the suction
curettage method does it ever happen that a portion of the fetus is extracted
from the uterus while the fetus is still alive?
Q. And how does that happen?
A. Well, when we do a suction curettage abortion,
you know, roughly one of three things is going to happen during the abortion.
One would be is that the catheter as it approaches the fetus, you know, tears it
and kills it at that instant inside the uterus. The second would be that the
fetus is small enough and the catheter is large enough that the fetus passes
through the catheter and either dies in transit as it's passing through the
catheter or dies in the suction bottle after it's actually all the way out.
Now on any given procedure does a surgeon know
precisely which of those three possibilities is going to occur, the answer is
no. But is it my intent that one of these three possibilities will happen with
each given patient, then the answer is yes.
Q. And when you perform an abortion
previability are you concerned with the point in the process when the fetus
A: Generally no, because it doesn't add anything
medically to the safety or care of the woman that's being taken care of.